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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Thermal baths: hot or nude?

So what is it about taking the waters in a spa resort like Bade-Baden?
A sip from that famous tap was the reason to go to a spa town for hundreds of years. People believed this water, rich in minerals, had healing qualities. This has been debunked, however, and since 2009 the government of the state of Baden gave up getting an official label for its water to have healing qualities.The famous drinking hall is still there. People still pay for a cup to drink it from. The water itself is free and you can take the cup home as a souvenir. These days it is more about enjoying the hot springs which supply two world famous spas, the Caracalla Spa, a modern facility with lots of glass, and the Friedrichsbad with a tradition of providing a bathing tradition that reaches back over 130 years. In fact, the latter now combines its tradition with hot-air Irish applications.(?)

The basic package costs EUR 25 p.p. Different wellness packages cost different prices. If you add on a massage or peeling etc., you can easily spend EUR 200.

A trip to The Friedrichsbad is modeled around 17 stations of well-being. The ideal route is as follows" shower, warm air, hot air, shower, massage, shower, steam, hot steam, full bath, whirlpool bath,exercise  bath, cold bath, towel down, cream application, relaxation and reading. You slip into another world and take a truly relaxing break.
You can visit the  adjacent Roman baths ruins for an extra EUR 2,50.
The temperature in the Caracalla bath ranges from 18-38. It's recommended not to stay longer in the 38 degree bath for longer than 3x10 minutes. How often do we stay longer in our pools in Florida in the summer when they have reached child bath's temperature, i.e. 38? We sit on the steps and have a drink or make phone calls.
Now to the nudity you all have been waiting for...I walked the planet for decades believing that a thermal bath was just that, a thermal= warm bath. Guidelines in Germany say that a "Therme" has to come from a spring that is over 20 degrees warm and that it is often said to have healing qualities, also because of its high mineral content.
I did not expect nudity. Some years ago, I visited a Thermal Bath that belonged to a big hotel and was shocked to see that everybody-except me- was naked. I had been wondering why I got looks in the changing room when I slipped into my swimsuit. A narrow walkway lead through the whole bath area and different pool full if naked people. I felt like I was the naked one and being stared at- not the naked people who were in the water ogling every newcomer. To be honest, the clientele were mostly older men and some dubious looking young women. I walked that path like on ice, embarrassed and hastened back to the changing room. Why did you leave so early? I had not expected nudity. I even complained to the hotel manager who claimed that everybody knew that thermal bath means nudity. Not in my books and from my knowledge of old Greek.

Now, after Baden-Baden, I stand corrected. Looking up the difference between the two spas and pondering which one to go to, hubby found out online, that Caracalla you may visit in a swimsuit whereas Friedrichsbad requires you shedding your clothes. Better to find out online...
Another little tidbit: Germans generally visit the sauna naked, just with a towel to sit on.

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